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Niko ne može predvideti uspeh startapa!

“No one can predict the success of the startup!”

Intervju uradila, interview by: Ivana Parčetić Mitić, Marketingmreža

Patrick Bosteels, Co-Founder kompanije Stage-Co, koja pomaže startapima da razviju svoje ideje i pripreme se za investicije, specijalno za Marketing mrežu govori o značaju mentorstva, ali i startap ekosistemu u Evropi — šta nedostaje i koji su potencijali.

Možete li oceniti i opisati startap ekosistem u Evropi? Šta nedostaje i koji su potencijali?
Evropa je dugo kaskala za SAD-om u smislu aktivnog i uspešnog razvoja startap ekosistema. Barem je to percepcija, a svi znamo da je percepcija samo jedna verzija istine. Kada se uporede nakon dužeg perioda, Evropa je stabilan „uzgajivač“ startapa sa jednom velikom razlikom u odnosu na SAD. Nemamo jedinstveno tržište u smislu pristupa potrošačima, samo da uzmemo jezik kao primer. Svaka zemlja zahteva poseban pristup.

Drugo, Evropa je konzervativna. Mi volimo da kupujemo od poznatih brendova. Iako je prešla na pametnu kupovinu, mora da postoji određena vrednost brenda da bi Evropljanin bio siguran i kupio proizvod. Startapi u Evropi prolaze trnovit put ka tržištu, jer je teško naći prvog kupca, bilo u B2B ili B2C. Ali s druge strane, „stara dama“ to nadoknadi, jer Evropa ima potencijal da bude vođa umesto sledbenika. Tržišni potencijal je zaista velik, 600 miliona ljudi, a znanje eksponencijalno raste. Ono što nam nedostaje jesu kupci kojima ne smeta da kupuju od nepoznate kompanije / brenda. Najveća prednost koju u ovom trenutku ima SAD. Kupci žele da preuzmu taj rizik. To važi i za investitore. Ne smeta im rizik. Dakle, govorimo o periodu od 20 godina, ali videćemo šta će biti u narednih 20 godina.

Zašto je važno da zemlje razvijaju startape i mala preduzeća?
Sve se više pažnje posvećuje preduzetništvu i više ne pravimo razliku između malih preduzeća i startupa. Lokalno preduzetništvo je uvek bilo tu kao odgovor na lokalne poslovne mogućnosti i potrebe. Ovo je veoma važno za otvaranje novih mogućnosti za zapošljavanje, dok velike korporacije nameravaju da optimizuju i smanje troškove. Prednost živog, lokalnog, preduzetničkog ekosistema je da grad, zemlja, može da ide u korak sa najnovijim dostignućima, stvarajući priliku za određene startapove da se razviju globalno. Karakteristike dobrog ekosistema su pre svega prisustvo dobrog tehničkog univerziteta, gradske i državne administracije koji aktivno podržavaju i ljude koji žele da daju sve od sebe i izađu iz okvira. Neki lokalni uspesi svakako pomažu. I sve počinje inicijativama lokalne zajednice. Kada organizujemo Startup Weekend ili Hackathon uvek vidimo pojačanje energije, isto kao i međunarodne inicijative poput Seedstars koje donose međunarodni nivo na scenu i funkcionišu kao katalizator za podizanje granica.

S obzirom da ste mentor, kaliko je važna mentorska podrška startapima? Da li je kvalitetno mentorstvo ključno za dalji razvoj startupa?
Tema o kojoj se najviše diskutuje je svakako mentorstvo. Mentorstvo definitivno može pomeriti startap, nivo mentorstva zavisi od više stvari. Mentor treba da bude spreman da sasluša i iznese opipljive savete. Još važnije, mentor mora biti stvarno dobar u onome što tvrdi da jeste. Znam puno mentora koji vole da razgovaraju o sebi ili samo na opštem nivou šta bi trebalo učiniti po njihovom mišljenju. Kada ja vodim mentorsku obuku potencijalnim mentorima, uvek osećam otpor, posebno u pretpostavljaju mladih kolega da znaju što je mentorstvo. Istina je sasvim suprotna jer mentorstvo počinje prvo sa stavom, empatijom i tek onda sa znanjem. Dobar mentorski rad može biti ključan za uspeh, ali dobar tim može biti uspešan i bez mentorstva. Po mom mišljenju, mentorstvo nije obavezno.

Kako prepoznati kvalitetan startap, koji ima potencijal da preraste u veliku kompaniju i prepoznatljiv brend?
Ko ne bi voleo imati kristalnu kuglu za predviđanje uspeha, uložiti rano i malo novca, a otići kući s ogromnim kapitalom. Svaki investitor bi to voleo. Ipak to funkcioniše malo drugačije i svaki investitor ima svoje kriterijume, jednostavno ne možete predvideti uspeh. Ono što možete lako da otkrijete su oni koji dolaze sa praznom pričom. Na nivou ideja, poznavanja tržišta, sastava tima, znanja i sl. Lako možete uočiti one koji nemaju nikakav potencijal. Kada startap prođe sve osnovne kriterijume, gde je tim po, mom mišljenju, glavni kriterijum uspeha, on postaje kockanje. Zbog toga dobar portfolio investitora ili mreže treba da sadrži više od 10 investicija godišnje i po mogućnosti mnogo više. Želite da znate unapred ko je poseban i predodređen za uspeh? Čak i kada se predvidi, investitori znaju da je sreća jednako važna kao i svaki drugi indikator uspeha.

U karijeri i radnom iskustvu sa startapima, možete li izdvojiti jedan ili više startapa za koje smatrate da će biti uspešni u budućnosti i zašto?
Kroz Stage-Co mi se angažujemo sa startapima na nivou ideje ili MVP, tako da je teško detektovati buduće uspešne priče. Kada vidimo da se startapi razvijaju od MVP do prve investicije, postaje jasnije. Ono što se često potcenjuje jeste broj inicijativa koje su potrebne da bi se ostvarila jedna uspešna priča. Kada pokrenemo akcelerator program, počnemo sa preko 400 aplikacija, odaberemo 10 timova za program i veoma smo srećni kada jedan startup pređe u sledeću investicionu fazu. Dakle, ne govorim o uspehu, on dolazi možda pet godina kasnije. Naravno, tu su mnoge greške koje se dešavaju na putu. Tehnologija i njena dostupnost dosta utiču, jer se menjaju velikom brzinom. Malo je onih koji idu u korak sa tom brzinom, ali izgleda da je to proces sa kojim se danas suočavamo.Can you rate or describe the startup ecosystem in Europe? What’s missing and what’s the potential?

English Version:

Can you rate or describe the startup ecosystem in Europe? What’s missing and what’s the potential?

Europe has for long been lacking behind the US in terms of an active and successful startup ecosystem. At least that is the perception and we all know perception is just one version of the truth. When you compare over a longer period Europe is a steadfast grower with one big difference to the US. We don’t have a united market in terms of access to consumers, just take language for example. Every country needs a specific approach. Secondly, Europe is conservative. We like to buy from known brands. Although it shifted to smart buying, there had to be some brand value to be convinced. Startups in Europe suffer in the go to market as it is hard to find a first customer, be it in B2B or B2C. Make no mistake, the old lady is catching up and Europe has the potential to be the leader instead of the follower. The market potential is really big, 600 million people, and the knowledge is exponentially growing. What we miss are customers who don’t mind to buy from an unknown company/brand. The biggest advantage the US has. Customers want to take that risk. This also goes for the investors. They don’t mind taking a risk. At the same time we are talking about a period of 20 years, so let’s see what the next 20 years will bring. Some holistic approach wouldn’t harm anyone.

Why is so important for any country to develop startups and small business?

We see more and more attention given to entrepreneurship where we don’t make the distinction anymore between small businesses and startups. The same evolution in corporates where intrapreneurship suddenly becomes a hot topic. In that sense, local entrepreneurship was always there as it was an answer to local business opportunities. This is very important for the creation of local employment whereas big corporates intend to optimize and reduce costs. The advantage of a vibrant, local, entrepreneurship ecosystem is that a city, a country, can stay in line with the latest developments creating the opportunity for certain startups to go global. The ingredients for a good ecosystem are most of all the presence of a good tech university, city and country administration who support actively and people who want to stick out their neck. Some local successes definitely help too. And it all starts with initiatives carried by the local community. When we organise a Startup Weekend or Hackathon we always see a boost of energy, same with the international initiatives like Seedstars that bring an international level to the stage and functions like a catalysator to raise the bar.

Since you are a mentor, how is important mentor support to startups? Is quality mentoring crucial for further development of startup?

The most discussed topic is certainly mentorship. Apart from the retribution, do you pay the mentor cash of with equity or just a coffee is one of the hot potatoes. Although mentorship can definitely push forward the startup, the level of mentorship stays at the low end. A mentor needs to be ready to listen and come up with tangible advice. More importantly, the mentor needs to be really good at what he or she claims to be. I see too many mentors who love the platform to talk about themselves or just kind of order what should be done in their opinion. When I give mentorship training to potential mentors I always feel resistance as they assume to know what mentorship is. The truth is quite the opposite as mentorship starts first with attitude, empathy and only then knowledge. Good mentorship can be essential for success but a good team can just be as successful without mentoring. It is not a must in my opinion.

How to recognize a quality startup, which has the potential to grow into a big company and a recognizable brand?

Who wouldn’t like to have a kristal ball to predict success, invest early with a little bit of money and goes home with a huge multiplyer. Any investor would love that. Realty is a bit different and although every investor has his or her criteria, you simply can not predict success. What you can detect easily are those that come up with crap. At idea level, market knowledge, team composition, knowledge etc you can easily understand a startup will go nowhere. When a startup passes all basic criteria, where the team is, in my opinion, the main success criteria, it becomes a gamble. That is why a good portfolio of an investor or network should hold more than 10 investments a year and preferably much more. The unicorn you want to know? Even when predicted, the investors know that luck is just as important as any other success indicator.

In your career and work experience with startups, can you single out one or more startups that you believe will be successful in the future and why?

Through Stage-Co we engage with startups at idea or MVP level, in that way it is hard to detect the future successes. Once we see startups evolve from MVP to first sell it becomes more clear. What is often underestimated is the number of initiatives needed to have one success story. When we do an acceleration program we start with over 400 applications, we select 10 teams for the program and we are very happy when 1 startup goes to a next investment round. So I am not talking about success, that comes maybe 5 years later. This gives an idea of the funnel but also the work we put in to come to 1 startup that might make it. That are lot of failures that occur on the road. The democratisation of technology and the availability makes that many are called. Few make it but that seems the process we are confronted with today.

Patrick Bosteels, Stage-Co and Stagecoworking Co-Founder

patrick@stage-co.com

check out the other interviews https://medium.com/@patrickbosteels

see more: https://www.facebook.com/patrick.bosteels and https://www.facebook.com/stagecoplatform/

Stage-Co, Urla Coworking and Now Sprint! Accelerator co-founder, CoderDojo Turkiye co-founder, Facilitator, Accelerator Program Manager and Mentor

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